What is it?
A bit of a conundrum, really. The Fiat Panda Cross – which made its debut in Geneva earlier this year and which we’ve already driven in 0.9-litre TwinAir petrol form – sits at the very top of the Panda range in the UK.
To set it apart from its pseudo-off-road siblings, the Panda Trekking and the Panda 4x4, Fiat has given the Panda Cross chunky body cladding, raised its ride height by 9mm, fitted mud and snow tyres as standard, and added its ‘torque on demand’ selectable traction control system.
Under normal conditions, the Panda Cross is front-wheel drive, but when the car detects a loss of traction power is sent to the rear. Hill Descent Control is also fitted.
So with some pretty serious off-road credentials, the Panda Cross appears to be raising itself to compete with compact SUVS like the Ford EcoSport, Vauxhall Mokka, and even the Skoda Yeti. Yet, with dimensions measuring just 3705mm long by 1662mm wide, the Panda Cross has more in common with city cars like Volkswagen’s Up, the Seat Mii and the Skoda Citigo.
It’s a car which exists all on its own, then, which needn’t be a bad thing if it’s also practical, well priced and fun to drive.